Ambode: Giving Lagos its groove back

With the One Lagos Fiesta (OLF), an initiative of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism headed by Folorunso Folarin-Coker, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has killed at least five birds with one stone.

First, he has given a lie to the belief that public concerts and insecurity are like horse and carriage in the Centre of Excellence. Before now, violence was an almost constant factor in mega shows held in the state. From the National Stadium to Tafawa Balewa Square and Agege Stadium to Lekki Beach, fun seekers in the past have been robbed of their valuables and dignity by rampaging hoodlums.

Putting concerts together in Lagos was a nightmare. It was bad enough coordinating events at one venue; supervising goings-on at multiple venues was a disaster.

One of the first thing on Coker should highlight in his report to Ambode is the fact that no case of violence was reported in the five days for which the festival ran. And in five centres too.

Unlike in the past when the official Lagos New Year crossover was held in one location – Bar Beach – the OLF was spread across the five divisions of Lagos – Ikorodu, Badagry, Epe, Lagos Island (Bar Beach) and Ikeja (Agege).

That is in keeping with the governor’s campaign promise of using entertainment for excellence; that he will not leave any part of the state behind and that Lagos will be secure under his watch.

A record one million people turned out at Agege Stadium on the last night of December 31. Like in the four other venues, there was not a single incident of theft, molestation, rape, robbery, killing, kidnapping or terrorism.

It also proved pundits wrong that the template of the Lagos Countdown, which held for three years for only one night in only one venue, could not be surpassed. It was the largest multi-venue musical and entertainment event in Africa with the cream of Nigerian hip-hop and traditional artistes performing across the state simultaneously.

The fiesta became a demonstrable evidence of Ambode’s promise of a government of inclusion; of taking back governance and the good life to the people in every nook and cranny.

What is sauce for the Island is definitely sauce for the Mainland. With stars in their eyes, residents of the remotest parts of Lagos came out to see their idols in flesh and blood.

New artistes were discovered from the communities and they shared the stage with stars like D’banj, Olamide, Don Jazzy, Tiwa Savage, Korede Bello, Wizkid, Lil Kesh, and Dare Art Alade.

Lagosians from all walks of life have always yearned for quality entertainment. Those in otherwise disadvantaged areas have watched from afar as residents of developed areas like Victoria Island, Lekki, Ikeja, Yaba and Surulere go on regular pilgrimage to Silverbird, Ozone and other high profile cinemas. OLF might have started a revolution that will make every local government and council development area an entertainment hub.

Along with the drums, Ambode has also rolled out tractors and other construction machinery all over Lagos. His One Lagos mantra is true in all areas of development.

Beyond decentralising the annual crossover ceremonies, OLF has deepened the commercialisations of entertainment in the state. It created employment and income in the hospitality, entertainment and tourism industry at a festive period after a financially difficult year.

According to the state government, it was entertainment economy promised, entertainment economy tested and entertainment economy to be delivered.

OLF came with verifiable benefits to stage, sound, light, transportation, hospitality, food and beverage sellers in multiples of five across five locations. Artistes were gainfully employed with their teams and crews. The GDP of Lagos state increased.

The promise from Alausa is: “One Lagos Fiesta to remain alive all year round, creating platforms to showcase our culture with its unique art. The 20 localities of Lagos will all get a festival a year.

“In addition there will be a festival of the drums, food and beverage fiesta, Abuja road shows, jazz fiesta and Independence Day.

“Nigeria dominates Africa in the music and film industries of which Lagos is their home.

“Our strategic investments in entertainment infrastructure will help deepen the hold Lagos has on this dominance.

“The entertainment of Lagos will surely enough soon bring by the alternative economy in tourism hospitality we so dearly seek.

“The new buzz word in town, courtesy of OLF is now “One Lagos, Love Lagos”.

With OLF, a political movement has emerged in Lagos albeit subtly. Ambode personally led his team to Day 1 of the fiesta in Agege on Sunday, December 27. He was on the ground in Epe, his home town, on the 29th, and was at the crossover night at Bar Beach with the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu; Senators Ganiu Solomon and Olamilekan Yayi; and members of his executive council.

Political big wigs were charged to mobilise and celebrate with people of their constituencies. Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, took charge in Agege with several Lagos cabinet members. Deputy Governor, Dr Idiat Oluranti Adebule, was in Badagry.

Ambode has found a winning formula to penetrate the heart of every Lagos division in a subtle, entertaining and effective manner!

And OLF, which was a trending topic on social media for several weeks, is giving Lagos its groove back.